By Kemboi Victor
I came to know Juliet in my first month at Huduma Bora Microfinance Bank in Nairobi, where I had gotten job as a teller. She was a Clinician at Joylinks Clinic, at Embakasi, in the same street with Huduma Bora, where I would dash to buy some bottles of water to quench thirst, or some painkillers whenever got a headache.
She was friendly and I came to like her and once in a while I would find myself in her chemist having some conversations with her after work, whenever she wasn’t busy with her customers.
I learned that she was from Eldoret, my hometown: and that she had stayed in Nairobi for three years trying to make ends meet.
She had worked at Joylinks for two years but she was planning to move out to Kenyatta Hospital if her application went through.
I decided to play the good man’s game and our acquaintance strengthened. We started hanging out after a short time. From her stories, I could tell that she was focused with life, and her career. I felt she was different from all other girls I had dated and my interest in her flamed up. I wanted her badly.
Without wasting time, I gave her my punch lines. However, she hesitated for some weeks before approving my request, claiming she was tired of relationships and heartbreaks. She gave me benefit of doubt, and warned me not to play with her heart.
Two girlfriends for security reasons
I assured her and finally, we started dating, in a relationship that would see us settling down and starting a family. I knew I had other two girlfriends then but still I felt like she was the right one for me, and I was the right one for her because I had all the qualities she had described. I was also tired of dating and being heartbroken like she as most girls whom I had dated, including the ones I had at that moment, had disappointed me one time or another, which is why I wanted a serious girl too. Not that I like being a player but from my past relationships, I had started to believe that it was better to have two than one, for security reasons. When one exited the scene, I would remain with the other.
Juliet was being third after Clare whom we had dated for about a year and a month; and Scholastica my five months old lover. I had had many issues with them for some time and I had found a way of getting out of their lives without success. When I started dating Juliet, I decided to dump Clare and Scholastica by all means possible.
I feared Scholastica because of her love for money, alongside her being a party animal; clubbing and alcohol were her hobbies. I felt like her drinking tendencies were a great thing to worry me as she was so addicted to the bottle, a quality I didn’t like in a woman. Due to pressure from her, I had started using beer too. Besides, she was always rude to me, which made me feel like I was an option to her, and not a choice.
“The day you decide you are tired with me, kindly tell me so that I can set you free,” she had told me one time after some little quarrels we had had. “Mimi ni ule msee, ukitaka kwenda sitakufunga na kamba, mtu hujiendea akifeel, I love alcohol and clubbing and I won’t stop it soon,” she had added.
That often rang in my mind whenever I saw her or thought about her. At such instances, I would feel like going mad. True like she had said, I took it for food for thought. I thought she was the dangerous type and decided to find a good reason to dump her. One Sunday morning she came to my house nursing hangovers after spending the whole night in one of the taverns in town. I decided to call it an end.
Not alcoholic, but expensive
Clare was good, a graduate of Bachelor’s Degree in Analytical Chemistry, beautiful and loving; but sometimes when I thought about her stubbornness and hot temper, I resolved to sacrifice her, even though with a lot of pain because she was the most beautiful of all. Her demand for money too had made me feel she wasn’t my type. Yes, she wasn’t an alcoholic but what people would call an ‘expensive girl’. I had decided to call our one-year-old relationship quits, just like that, with no reasons given to her, and keep Juliet; a hardworking woman whom I knew would support me rather than take all from me.
One thing that was worrying about Juliet, however, is that she was a girl of few words, an introvert indeed. In fact, I wondered how I had managed to win her heart with the degree of her silence. Nonetheless, I thought she was better than Clare and Scholastica.
I wanted to settle down with her instantly, and marry her the soonest before circumstances came along and set us apart, or just before those men who were keen after her edged her away from me. Who knows if things could change and better alternatives of men could come along and kick me out of her league?
At last her appointment to Kenyatta National Hospital came. It was after a month of waiting on a day during the Easter Holidays when we had travelled upcountry. She was so happy that she had gotten her dream job and before that day ended, she called me to meet her in a hotel in Eldoret to celebrate her appointment as we discussed our future.
With both of us in Nairobi and working, we resolved to start living together, forthwith. Two days from then we were going back to Nairobi. I felt we were going to be so close to one another and our relationship would be stronger, as opposed to living apart. In my mind, I decided to impregnate her as soon as possible, to make her a secure and permanent entity for myself. This, I resolved to make it my secret. I also convinced her to back up my idea of introducing ourselves to our parents, which we resolved to do it in a few months’ time, with marriage being our last plan.
Analytical gold digging chemist
Our time to travel back to the city came. We grabbed our tickets and hurriedly entered a bus that was heading to Nairobi at about 3 p.m.
We sat next to each other and started talking. There was one seat remaining. The one next to me.
A few minutes later, it was occupied. But lo and behold! It was Clare my ex-girlfriend! We had just broken up two weeks earlier and since then; I had been ignoring her phone calls and text messages, to keep her off as I had resolved. Now, she had come in unexpectedly, which made me panicky and uncomfortable. I realized my plans were fast moving south.
There wasn’t a way I was going to avoid her, seated just next to me, staring at me with both anger and regret. Maybe she was thinking of the last night I had spent with her three weeks ago in my house, where we had had some great romantic moments. I had also told her on her graduation day at the Kenyatta University a month ago too, big words: she was mine until death separated us. I had promised her the world being proud of her; and her clean First Class Honors Degree in Analytical Chemistry which had been a great deal to me. That night, after her graduation when she visited me, we had made wild love and perhaps she was now pregnant.
But when Juliet received her appointment letter to KNH, I got so much into her that I felt no desire for Clare despite the likelihood of her being pregnant. She was just an unemployed graduate who had extorted me of all my money and I dumped her so uncaringly, and blocked her everywhere: on Whatsapp, Facebook, short messages and the simple voice calls. By the way, where on earth was she going to get a job with this Degree? I had asked myself. There were very few companies, if none in Kenya, that could offer opportunities to such graduates and I had seen a number of people like her tarmac for years on end, after completion of such courses. After weighing the two ladies, I decided Juliet was a better asset. She was a million times better placed than Clare, the demanding, jobless brained Analytical Chemistry gold digging graduate, I thought to myself.
She now looked at me fixedly, and a tear tumbled down her lovely cheek, I think imagining her ‘frozen accounts’ now.
A lying frog
“I have been calling you but you have not been picking my calls Gerald, what did I do to you to deserve this?” She asked. I went blank. She never addressed me with my first name, unless she was really angry, and this was one of those times. I found myself staring at her with half open mouth, not able to say a word. Juliet was still laughing at something I had said before Clare came in, her face on my laps and her hands in mine. The moment she rose, Clare’s angry face met hers.
“Why is she looking at you like that honey?” she asked. I wanted to tell her that I had no idea; unfortunately, I knew what was going on. I said nothing; Clare continued to fix me with a stern glare as if to inform Juliet she had found her favorite match at last.
“And who is this?” Clare demanded.
I looked at Juliet, wondering why the devil had chosen to visit me at that time. What shit was this? What was I going to tell her? That Juliet was my friend? I wondered. Yet it seemed that she had realized why I dumped her; because of the new catch and possibly, she was asking herself how I had been lying to her, or to both, all that time she had been with me. I felt like I would welcome someone who would want to throw me out of that moving vehicle.
“Oooh, you know her honey?” Juliet asked. I wished she had not addressed me so sweetly but well, the damage was already done and I was already trembling. I quickly resolved to turn my back on Clare, whether she was going to peel my mask off or not, whether she felt more pain or not. I was not going to break up with Juliet, because of a jobless and gold digger.
“Ah…mmm…” I stuttered, “Yes, I know her, a good friend of mine…”
I decided to say she was my friend. Who cares? I asked myself and faked a smile, looking at Clare as if she was really a friend. Now if anything happened and Clare became so mad to reveal the truth, as stubborn as I knew her to be, I decided she was going to be that girl who had a crush on me.
She looked helpless
“He is a liar, a frog!” Clare told Juliet, in an unfairly loud whisper that attracted the attention of all passengers. I think everyone started to understand what our conversation was all about, they laughed. A frog had been caught hoping from one well to another, testing the waters. That, I wished she had not said. I knew Clare was still heartbroken and she had not healed her wounds having been dumped after dating for one year, for no apparent reason. Hell had broken loose, and I felt it in my entire body, my legs vibrating and the knees knocking against each other.
The driver warned us to keep quiet because we were disturbing his clients. I was relieved and stressed at the same time. However, when I turned to see my dear Juliet she was now looking at me with questions ready in her eyes. Why Clare had referred me to a frog? She asked.
“I think it is because she had a crush on me but I rejected her,” I whispered and turned my eyes on Clare hoping she did not hear me. She was now looking outside like she had decided to study the weather outside. Well, it was cloudy and calm but inside, it was hot and stormy.
“Really? Or you are lying to me sweetheart?” She asked and giggled like she believed Clare.
This moron, Clare, I thought. I looked at Juliet once more and she smiled disbelievingly. She had understood the drama, or maybe she was trying to claim what she thought belonged to her with pretense. Probably she was trying to convince herself that Clare was truly a crush that had been rejected. She stared at Clare, and laughed a bit, though satirically.
I felt bad because Clare could not hold her tears. She looked helpless. I guess she would have fainted but she loosened her blouse and covered her face with a sweater she was holding.
For the entire journey she became sad. Juliet too had decided to act innocent after I assured her, through a whisper, that she was my ‘everything’ and Clare was the bad girl that was trying to play the devil’s game to get me. My mind was swirling with a number of ideas which I wanted to console Clare with, and convince Juliet that all was well.
To find out what happens next, click here for PART TWO